Tax identity thieves and IRS imposters are ready for tax season. Learn how to protect yourself, and what to do, if you or someone you know runs into problems.
Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number (SSN) to file a phony tax return and collect your refund. You may not find out it has happened until you try to file your real tax return and the IRS rejects it as a duplicate filing.
IRS imposters are scammers who pretend they are calling from the IRS. They claim you owe taxes and demand that you pay right now, usually with a gift card or prepaid debit card. They threaten you will be arrested or face other bad consequences, if you do not pay. However, it is all a lie. If you send the money, it is gone.
To start fighting tax identity theft right away, remember:
- Protect your SSN throughout the year. Do not give it out unless there is a good reason and you are absolutely sure who you are giving it to.
- File your tax return as early in the tax season as you can.
- Use a secure internet connection, if you file electronically, or mail your tax return directly from the post office.
- Research a tax preparer thoroughly before you hand over personal information.
- Check your credit report at least once a year for free at annualcreditreport.com. Make sure no one has opened a new account in your name.
Check out the Federal Trade Commission’s “IRS Imposter Scams” infographic.